Duke Energy ad campaign causing some controversy - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Duke Energy ad campaign causing some controversy

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A new ad campaign launched by Duke Energy is causing some controversy.

The highly stylized television commercials all use the same soothing, upbeat soundtrack, and they all feature Duke Energy employees stating confidence in the company and its coal ash plans.

Then the commercials go on to show the employees hugging kids, dogs, and more kids. It's a series of spots seemingly designed to pull at your heartstrings and to humanize the utility, a move companies tend to try when facing a public relations crisis according to Adam Bernstein of Carolina PR.

As long as they can afford it.

"Obviously smaller companies don't have the resources to be able to afford full page ads and TV spots," Bernstein says. "But the principal is the same and that is how do you explain your position, how do you maintain your
Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins wishes Duke would spend less on its image and more on cleaning up its coal ash.

"They're spending all this money on a PR campaign, but it doesn't really mean much when they're still fighting clean ups at their sites and doing what's right," he says.

Bernstein says if a company doesn't do all the damage control it can, though, it can be dangerous. "If you're not decisive in your response than you suffer the consequences," he says.

Ultimately shareholders could take a hit.

Duke Energy is arguing that it's doing a thorough job of handling its ash issues and researching new ways to create clean energy. But the utility did ask a judge to throw out a case filed by state regulators that would force it to clean up its ash pits, and the utility's CEO has also said customers might have to pay for the process.

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